Becky Kuhn, M.D., co-founder of Global Lifeworks, covers critical basic information about HIV and AIDS. HIV is a virus that causes the disease AIDS. There are treatments but no cure. HIV is spread by contact between an infected person's body fluids and another person's mucous membranes. It is spread by sexual contact, injection drugs users sharing needles, from mother to child during childbirth or nursing, and by receiving transfusions of infected blood. You can reduce your risk by abstaining from sex before marriage, being faithful to a single partner and using a condom and/or dental dam if you are sexually active, and by never injecting drugs or by never sharing needles if you do. It can take up to six months after exposure to HIV for a person to test HIV positive; even before they test HIV positive, the infected person can spread the disease to others. A doctor can prescribe antiretroviral (ARV) drugs to help prevent HIV from progressing to clinical AIDS.